SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr., D-Elwood, held a hearing with the House Transportation: Regulation, Roads & Bridges Committee in Springfield last week to hear testimony from state and Will County transportation officials on the safety and conditions of the Des Plaines River Bridge.
“The purpose of the committee hearing this past week was to dispel some of the fear mongering going on and give some people perspective on actions being taken to ensure the Des Plaines River Bridge is safe,” Walsh said. “While the bridge is currently safe, we need to make fixing it a priority so that it’s condition doesn’t deteriorate further.”
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) lists any infrastructure below a score of 80 as ‘deficient.’ The Des Plaines River Bridge has been rated with a 6 out of 100. While this number is alarming, IDOT’s ratings are not just indications of structural safety, but an overall rating pending lanes on a bridge, average daily traffic, roadway width and more. It has been previously reported that IDOT has been inspecting the bridge twice a year and the project to rebuild the bridge is still in the study phase. However, given that the bridge handles on average 42,000 vehicles everyday with an ever increasing amount of freight traffic, IDOT has stepped up its safety inspections on the bridge and is sending money for emergency repairs.
In addition, Walsh introduced House Joint Resolution 50, which would authorize the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (Tollway) to expand the Tollway’s authority over additional parts of I-80, specifically the stretch from I-294 to Route 47 in Morris.
“The bridge was originally designed as a rural bridge, however today, with the booming freight and logistics businesses popping up all around Will County, the increased traffic has caused the bridge’s rating to decrease at a much faster rate,” Walsh continued. “Now that we’ve had the hearing, I hope we’re able get everyone in a room to take proactive action.”